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Child psychologist-4 year old.(23 Posts)
At 2.5 my son witnessed DV in the home. We moved away and I have received support. I have moved on and am in a stable and committed new relationship. Children have settled well at pre school and nursery.
My son has what can only be described as a violent temper. He (not unlike his father actually) is prone to outbursts that are very intense. The way he speaks "GET THIS FOR ME NOW!!" hitting out and screaming (quite literally). For hours, particularly when imposing boundaries. Not listening at all. Dropping to the floor and screaming every ten to thirty minutes and wailing if a request (eg ice cream for breakfast) is denied. Unrelenting anger.
I am walking on eggshells waiting for the next outburst. I am ground down and exhausted. DP is supportive, but perhaps lacks understanding.
I think in part this is down to what he witnessed as a toddler. I know he remembers from comments made previously. I need help. He needs help. I think I have to give in and accept that needs to be professional. Before he grows up unable to control himself. I clearly lack the parenting skills to show him how to manage his feelings, in fact, the vast majority of his anger is directed exclusively at me.
I have so much going on, I work around 60 hrs a week (3 month contract), juggle three childcare providers, two jobs, am pregnant , oh and my parents are getting divorced and am moving house. All huge potential flash points for my son who hates any change in routine (even driving a different route triggers him off).
I should have prioritised his behaviour long before now, but weak though it sounds have been too busy. Now it is causing problems with DP and I, I particular temper and resistance to going to bed. We are very worried how he will respond to his new sister who is due in march. What if he tries to hurt the baby?
Lots of issues, need help. Structured and professional. Can go private if need be. Where to start? Please? Am desperate. Got to go on school run now, will check back this morning. TIA
I would suggest speaking to your Health Visitor as a first port of call. Some of the behaviour may just be normal 4 year old boy stuff. Both of my boys always hated going to bed. You need strategies on how to manage his behaviour, and I'm wondering if the HV could advise on relevant parenting courses or with good practical advice. I'm not sure that professional help is needed for your son, but I'm sure others will have better advice.
I knew that would be the first response. I've done the 'normal behaviour' parenting class, positive re-enforcement, name the emotion,set boundaries route. It makes no difference. NONE. I can help himnwith his emotions, I make it worse. I get it, I am a terrible mother, but id the courses, it didnt help. I can't explain the frequency or velocity of the rage. He has been like it since he was 18mths old.
Tried to call HV. 4 x numbers, eventually spoke to bored admin who said "temper you say? weeeeeelllll There is a meeting this afternoon I'll bring it up then. If someone had space next week we can give you a call" sigh.
I have actually seen other children in his age group. Alone, overnight, at home and out. He doesn't behave in a way even close to them. Other children and parents avoid him.
I just want to see someone who can tell me why he behaves this way and how to help him (and me) manage it.
I didn't want to read and run but have no real help for you. It would take someone with far more experience than me to tell you whether the DV your child witnessedhas affected him in any way. The only thing I do know was that as a small child, having not witnessed any DV, I was an absolute nightmare to my parents. Screaming fits, held my breath till I passed out, screamed til I was sick, massive screaming temper tantrums. Passersby were often shocked! HV didn't believe how bad I was and thought my parents were being precious...until I let her have it one day! Parents did tell me (jokingly) that if my elder sister had acted like I did, she would have been an only child! So it easily could be something to do with his part, but could just as easily not be either.
Working 60 hours a week, and all the other things you mention too must be so hard on you. Do you think he might be frustrated he doesn't get to see you as much as he'd like. You're going through quite a few stressful life events, is he picking this stress up from you?
If you've had no joy with HV then I'd have a look for a child psychologist locally, perhaps someone who specialises in children with a similar background to your ds.
It does sounds as if there is an awful lot going on - and you working 60 hours a week can't be helping. sorry - you may not want to hear this. When do you see your ds? Perhaps he's acting out like this because it's one of the few things in his life he can control?
What's the rest of his development like? Speech? motor skills? Any other causes for concern? does he still see his bio dad?
Why do you juggle 3 childcare providers?
What advice do they give? They will know him very well and be in the best position to advise whether there is cause for concern. They will also be able to offer suggestions on managing his behaviour.
Why don't you try to find a play therapist with experience of working with kids who have witnessed domestic violence. Or look on the website of the British Psychological Society as they have a facility to find a psychologist in your area. Or ring up your local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and ask if they can recommend anyone locally. You could go to your GP and ask for a referral to CAMHS but you might end up having to wait quite a long time.
Your HV should be able to refer him to a community paediatrician for an assessment as the first step.
You mention his need for routine - do you suspect there is anything going on over and above the trauma he experienced?
CAMHS can be difficult to access - their thresholds are very high. It also sounds to me like you need specialist DV related support. If you have a Women's Aid or other DV charity nearby then give them a ring and see what they can offer locally. Sadly a lot of provision has been lost under the coalition, but if you are lucky there will be outreach support for you, as sounds like there is stuff you need to come to terms with, and hopefully play therapy by a specialised child worker for your DS. Some areas have special groups focusing on re-building mother / child relationships and strengthening parenting post DV relationships. The Freedom programme (usually run by DV specialists) is also brilliant. Good luck.
have so much going on, I work around 60 hrs a week (3 month contract), juggle three childcare providers, two jobs, am pregnant , oh and my parents are getting divorced and am moving house. All huge potential flash points for my son who hates any change in routine (even driving a different route triggers him off
Can you tackle any of this?
Also can you tell him what to do? When he starts screaming at you, get down to his level and firmly but not a raised voice, and say "ask mummy nicely".
My ds is angry - that comes from me. I've been like a broken record - speak nicely, say please etc etc and even if it feels like I'm getting nowhere then every now and then there is a break through.
You're not a rubbish mum - you've got so so much on!! Give yourself a break. I'd take a step back and see if you can make some changes to bring some stability to your son. I wouldn't be so quick to attribute his behaviour to being like his dad. If you do, you run the risk of "writing him off" at such a young age. He's young, you can change him. Treat him as a 4 year old with a lot going on, not like an angry 4 year old like his dad.
4 year olds have a testosterone surge which will also be part of it. Is he getting enough sleep? Does he have decent sleep? My ds is a demon for lack of sleep!
Play or filial therapy can help you. I have assisted two victims of crime whose toddlers were severely affected by witnessing violent attacks on their mums.
If you are in the south east pm me and i can give you a contact
You've described a child who has violent meltdowns, exhibits socially inappropriate behaviour, is avoided by his peers, cannot cope with changes in routine, doesn't respond to normal behaviour management strategies and struggles with emotional literacy.
Don't assume this is your parenting.
I think you should go to your GP and ask for a referral to CAMHS or a developmental paediatrician for a neurodevelopmental assessment.
My eldest Ds is like this, and was diagnosed with high functioning autism at 4. The inability to cope with changes to routine really is a big flag here.
Get referred to a developmental paediatrician, this is not caused by your parenting.
Another one agreeing with Goldmandra. If it is ASD (and I'm not saying it is!) then meltdowns really don't respond the same way as tantrums - you need different ways of coping with it.
Don't panic when you read this though. Loads of people you wouldn't expect have ASD and are perfectly happy and fine as adults - they just need different support. I'm one, btw. Most people can't tell.
GP. Say you can go private and want help NOW. Say you are at breaking point. Ask at the hospital seeing you for your pregnancy too. Where do you live? London? Its not that difficult to find a psychologist and look at their CV/practice area. Good luck.
Thanks all for replies. I have suspected asd since he was small. I thought he might grow out of it. HV coming on Friday, is researching options. The work thing is temporary. He has constants, its me who is all over. He is better when I explain in detail what we are about to do, but sometimes urgent situations cause a flashpoint. I think I need to write these things down before then. Thanks again, I felt I was going crazy.
I live in a rural part of the south west.
Keep a diary of his behaviour, what you feel triggered it, what you did to try to prevent it that you wouldn't need to do for a NT child, the behaviour management techniques you've used and how he responds to them.
Make sure you keep track of all episodes, not just occasional or the worst ones, so that it shows clearly the repetitive nature of the behaviour.
Thank you, that's really good advice.
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